Scott's Guitar Blog: April 28, 2006

Bending Sides The Old Way!

I’ve always loved bending sides, and on the ukulele I’m currently building with my son, I am bending the figured walnut sides in the traditional manner on a hot bending iron, as seen in these photos. This tool is essentially a hot pipe that heats the wet wood until it “relaxes” enough to be gently coaxed into a series of curves. Often, the piece is lifted into the air and waved around gently to cool the bend, thus setting it, then it’s back onto the sizzling iron to continue the process! The tactile experience of heat, the stiff grain giving in to the heat and pressure, and the aroma of the steaming wood is a wonderful reminder of a luthier’s roots, and once in a while we should walk away from our side-bending machines to heat up our fingers on a good old fashioned bending iron! Please check out my main site to see my custom built guitars, articles on repairs, a tour of the shop, and more!